O’Malley fights for Michigan’s cherry growers amid unfair trade threat

Categories: O’Malley News

State Rep. Jack O’Malley presented today a proposal that would throw the state’s support behind a petition to safeguard Michigan’s domestic cherry industry from foreign product being sold at artificially low prices.

“Michigan’s cherry producers are the backbone of the U.S. cherry industry, supplying 75 percent of cherries in the marketplace – but now their livelihood is threatened by a foreign nation gaming the system,” said O’Malley, of Lake Ann, after testifying before the House Agriculture Committee. “Michigan’s state government must do what it can to protect this vital industry from unfair trade practices. The proposal I put forward today would put the full weight of the Michigan Legislature behind the cherry industry’s petition to stop artificially low-priced Turkish imports of cherries.”

Research indicates that the Turkish government subsidized the export of 1.5 million pounds of cherries to the U.S. in 2018, up from 826,430 pounds in 2017 and just 413,893 pounds in 2016. Additionally, Turkish producers are benefitting from duty-free trade access granted under the United States’ Generalized System of Preferences, which is targeted toward helping developing nations.

“Just as our harvest returned to normal after a few challenging years, the tart cherry market was flooded with imports from Turkey at below market prices,” said Mark Miezio, president of Cherry Bay Orchards in Suttons Bay. “Without barriers in place to level the playing field, Turkey has the ability to take over the marketplace from Michigan growers.”

O’Malley’s proposal, House Resolution 143, supports the U.S. cherry industry’s petition before the U.S. International Trade Commission and urges the Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce to protect U.S. cherry farmers. U.S. cherry processors in the Dried Tart Cherry Trade Committee say a ruling in favor of U.S. producers could result in up to a 628.9% tariff on Turkey’s dried cherry product.

The petition was filed on April 23 by five dried cherry processors: Michigan’s Shoreline Fruit LLC, Cherry Central Cooperative, Smeltzer Orchard Co., Graceland Fruit Inc. and Utah-based Payson Fruit Growers Co-op. The International Trade Commission is expected to issue a final ruling on the petition in early 2020.